New year, old content – delete or not delete, that is the question!

NEW YEAR, OLD CONTENT – DELETE OR NOT DELETE, THAT IS THE QUESTION!Have you ever felt extra inspired and motivated at the beginning of the year? Well, who hasn’t? Around New Year time, we all tend to make resolutions. We become very inspired, new ideas come to mind, and we feel extremely motivated (at least during the first week or two!). So filled with those warm feelings, we come back to work and start to look for ways to act on the resolutions we’ve chosen to pursue.

And probably, one of the areas ‘under improvement’ might be your business’ website, right? It’s possible that you have been postponing for some time the work of ‘organising things online’. But you promised this year you would not postpone work tasks again, so there you go, you need to start looking through the pages of the website, analyse what works and what doesn’t, and maybe, even start creating better content.

You improve, rewrite, add, create and even ‘declutter’ some pages with products that are no longer available or don’t make sense any more. But then you realise: you have lots of content that is now ‘old’, especially if you have a blog on your website. Some of that content is still pretty relevant, some not so much. What should you do? Marie-Condo-away and delete all the old content, clearing the way for the new one? What about Google and SEO? And also, it just feels wrong to delete something that you’ve dedicated hours to. So, what should you do? Delete the old pages? Update the old content and just publish it again? Leave as it is?

We’ve prepared for you a list of steps to streamline the process and make the decision easier.

1. Analyse each page in terms of its usefulness, relevancy and SEO performance.
First, check if the page is worth keeping from your customer’s point of view – see whether the information on the page is still relevant and helpful; or maybe you have some fresher statistics or some better tips to give? Secondly, analyse the page from Google’s point of view – check its organic position in Google Search Console; see in Google Analytics whether the page brings in traffic, or if maybe it has been over a year since anybody viewed it.

2. Decide what to do with the page – delete, update, or keep as it is.
If the content has become useless with time (for example, you no longer offer that service), you can delete the page. If the page is still useful but the information within its content is out of date, you may decide to refresh that content. Maybe, the page is still relevant and it brings a good and steady volume of traffic to your website? Then leave it as it is. Do not fix what’s not broken.

3. What to do should you decide to DELETE the page.
Yes, we feel your pain. You have dedicated hours to write good content and prepare that page, and you feel it deserves to stay. But if the content is old and not relevant anymore; if the page hasn’t been receiving any traffic for some time now; it is actually better to delete it. Just don’t forget to redirect (with a 301 redirect) that page´s URL to a new page that has similar content and can work as a good substitute.

4. What to do should you decide to UPDATE the existing page.
If you decide that the page is worth keeping, make sure its content is really the best answer you can give right now to your potential customers. Update the statistics; add the new options that you recently started to offer. But don’t just stop at the content. Also:

4.1.Update the title and description for the page. Adding something like ‘manual for 2021’, or even just ‘2021 updated’ to your page’s title can significantly help you with its CTR. Because when we search for something in Google, we all want to receive the most recent information possible. And even if you are not in the news business, and your industry’s reality doesn’t frequently change, we can guarantee that a user will, most likely, click on the link that he feels is the most recent.

4.2. Update your images. Sometimes your text content might still be very relevant, but the images are showing something ‘outdated’. You don’t need to change the images all the time, just make sure that nothing on them is giving away that feeling that they have been taken 10-20 years ago (keep an eye out for technology pieces, designs, city street views, etc). For some industries, like interior design, for example, refreshing the images is a must-do.

4.3. Check all the links in the content. If you added links to other websites, resources, or other pages within your website, make sure they are all still working. If some are broken, because the content has been removed, find a good substitute, and fix the link.

4.4. Check the page’s URL. This is a general recommendation: always use timeless URLs, avoid having something like example.com/02/03/2015/… in your URL, because it will make your content get old quicker than necessary. If you do happen to have an URL with a date or year in it, change it, but do not forget to redirect the old version of the URL to the new one (with a 301 redirect).

5. What to do should you decide to KEEP the existing page.
So, your content is relevant, and the page is bringing in lots of traffic due to its nice organic position. Good job! Most likely, you needn’t do anything, and you can safely keep the page as it is. But don’t forget to analyse it in terms of keyword cannibalism within your website.

The problem with a bigger website is that, the more pages you have, the more likely it is that your pages will be about similar topics, thus ranking for similar keywords. But, unless your website has some crazy domain authority (like Wikipedia, for instance), it is very unlikely that Google will let you have more than one place on its first page of results, and therefore only one of your pages will get to be shown. However, for this to happen that page will need to compete not only with other websites, but also with the other pages of your website that have similar content. You are thus making the task of ‘ranking well’ very hard to almost impossible. To avoid this kind of problem, you need to evaluate several options: use the structure technique or merge the content.

The site structure technique.
Identify the pages that are ranking for the same keywords. See the analytics of each one and choose the best performing one. That page will be your ‘main’ page for the topic of that target keyword. Now add links from all the other pages to your ‘main’ page. This will tell Google exactly what you need – all those pages are about the same topic, but one of them is more important than the others, as all the links point to it, so it’s supposed to rank better.

Merge the content technique.
Take two, three or more older pages as inspiration and write one great piece of content that includes the information from all of them. Then put this new content on the best performing page (refer to Google Analytics to make this choice), redirect (with a 301 redirect) all the other pages to that chosen one with the new content, and voila! You have a fresh page that still uses the ‘SEO power’ of all the old pages (being published on an old URL and the 301 redirects will ensure this) and you didn’t lose any piece of content by deleting a page.

And that’s it on updating your website content! Seems like a lot of work? Well, it is a lot of work, but haven’t we just promised ourselves not to postpone the big tasks in this new year? So, let’s just go for it! You don’t need to do all the work at once. Analyse your pages, make a plan on what to do with each one of them, and divide the work into smaller and more manageable tasks. After that just book some time once a week on your diary for this type of work, and you will be surprised with how quickly you’ll go through it.

So, good luck and happy optimising in this New Year!

For more information, bespoke strategies and efficient digital marketing solutions, just contact the Clarity’s girls through info@yourdigitalclarity.com or visit our website at yourdigitalclarity.com.

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